U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has secured a convincing victory in the Republican caucuses in Iowa, defeating businessman Donald Trump who had been widely expected to win. On the Democratic side, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders were in a virtual tie, with Clinton winning by only a razor-thin margin.
Cruz won the Republican caucus with 27.7 percent of the vote, according to results released by the Republican party on early Tuesday. Trump finished second with 24.3 percent, but Senator Marco Rubio surprised many with 23.1 percent in the third place.
Cruz said his victory signified “the strength of conservatives against Washington insiders.” And Trump, appearing positive as ever, noted that critics at one point suggested that he could never make it in the top 10 in Iowa. “I’m honored. I’m really honored. And I want to congratulate Ted,” he said.
For many others on the Republican side, the results were far less positive: Neurosurgeon Ben Carson got only 9.3% of the vote, followed by Senator Rand Paul with 4.5%, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 2.8% and former HP executive Carly Fiorina with 1.9%.
For former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who got only 1.8 percent of the vote, the results were the reason to end his presidential campaign immediately. “I am officially suspending my campaign. Thank you for all your loyal support,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
But things were less clear on the Democratic side, where the result remained uncertain until well past 2 a.m. CT when the last group of precincts reported their results. With only one precinct remaining, Clinton won the Democratic caucus by 49.9 percent, which is just 0.3 percent more than the 49.6 percent for Sanders.
Speaking before the final results were clear, but with continuing indications of a slim lead, Clinton said she was “breathing a deep sigh of relief.” The Democratic Party in Iowa later confirmed Clinton’s win, indicating that the last remaining precinct could not alter the outcome.
In at least two locations, Clinton won the precincts through coin flips after an equal number of participants supported both Clinton and Sanders. At one precinct in Davenport, Clinton won in a coin flip after several rounds of counting left Clinton and Sanders with 81 votes each. At another precinct in Polk County, both candidates had 61 supporters.
The preliminary results from the Democratic race were also the final blow for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who announced that he would end his presidential campaign after getting only 0.5 percent of the caucus results.
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